New Mormon website Repackages Old Message
On the new Mormon’s website: mormons and gays.org., “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” a collection of conversations” on same-sex attraction contains the church’s stand on homosexuality: “the attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on the attraction is.” This view is not unlike Catholicism and other religions.
The rest of the church’s message is a variation on this theme. There are videos in which gay and lesbian Mormons discuss their redemption by relinquishing “sinful behavior.” Church leaders speak about AIDS counselling among other topics.
Elder Dallin H. Oakes of The Twelve Apostles, the highest governing body of the church, in the first video states: ”there is so much we don’t understand about this subject, that we’d do well to stay close to what we know from the revealed word of God. What we do know is that the doctrine of the church, that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married, has not changed, and is not changing. God’s law is not ours to change.”
According to Michael Purdy, a church spokesman, the site is part of an effort by the Mormon Church “to teach and clarify” the church’s position on homosexuality. The Church was severely criticized after it funded California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure that called a ban on gay marriage.
Supportive Family Reactions: “Hate the sin, but love the Sinner”
The new website asserts that “biological determination for same-sex attraction” does exist, but how you react to these temptations and urges determines whether you are sinful. Although the statement falls far short of complete acceptance, for the first time, the words “gay and lesbians” appear at all in a church-approved statement, and acknowledges that being gay is not a choice.
The church calls out for its members to “reach out to all of God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters” with love and understanding. What needs to change is to help our own members and families, understand how to deal with same gender attraction and react to gay loved ones in a Christian way.”
Glacial Shift in Thinking, but Not Okay with Gay
For gay activists, the Mormon church has not gone far enough. Since gay sex is still a sin, it leaves a gay Mormon two options: either live celibately or get married to a heterosexual so you can be married for eternity, according to the Mormon religion.
These “mixed orientation marriages” don’t work. Studies found that 85% of mixed-orientation marriages across society fail within three years. Mormonism actively seeks to “pray the gay away” with counselling that aims to train gay people to be able to exist in heterosexual marriages. Reparative or conversion therapy rarely has the desired long-term effect; instead, it typically causes depression, low self-esteem, and frustration.
While the Church may think they are being more tolerant, the net effect of regarding “the gay lifestyle” as being sinful still alienates LGBT Mormons and keeps them from practicing fully in their religion.